penknife

noun

pen·​knife ˈpen-ˌnīf How to pronounce penknife (audio)
plural penknives
: a small pocketknife usually with only one blade

Examples of penknife in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web During a break in a Boston performance, he was fatally stabbed with a penknife in May 1919. Alice George, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Nov. 2023 The boy carries a penknife in his pocket, ready to stab his father to death. Tim Parks, Washington Post, 2 June 2023 Allen sat next to his attorney calmly cleaning his nails with a penknife. Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Nov. 2022 When the Eagles won the tournament, each boy received a medal and a penknife. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 27 Dec. 2021 With my penknife’s big blade – There was a little one for cutting tobacco. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 25 Dec. 2020 Lovers, spouses, and rival siblings fling each other off cliffs into the sea or run one another through with penknives. Lidija Haas, Harper's Magazine, 27 Apr. 2020 In one instance he was charged with stabbing a fellow gambler in the abdomen with a penknife. Brian Seibert, New York Times, 18 Dec. 2019 In this sense a penknife is no different from some very complicated factory machine. Vladimir Nabokov, The New Yorker, 8 Nov. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'penknife.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English; from its original use for mending quill pens

First Known Use

1922, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of penknife was in 1922

Dictionary Entries Near penknife

Cite this Entry

“Penknife.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/penknife. Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

penknife

noun
pen·​knife ˈpen-ˌnīf How to pronounce penknife (audio)
: a small pocketknife usually with only one blade
Etymology

so called from the fact that it was originally used for sharpening the points of quill (feather) pens

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